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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

Netas cling to Lutyens’ bungalows at govt’s discounted market rates

Moushumi Das Gupta and Vandana Ramnani, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 15, 2014
First Published: 01:21 IST(15/6/2014) | Last Updated: 01:34 IST(15/6/2014)

There are two market rates to rent a house in the charmed zone of Lutyens’ Delhi.

One reflects the ground realities of demand and supply. The other – a mere fraction of the first – is conveniently based on a rulebook applicable only for a privileged few. Not surprisingly, influential “out of power” politicians top this select list.

Ostensibly to discourage them from clinging on to the bungalows, the government charges such occupants a higher rent that it refers to as the market rate. But this official ‘market rate’ for a 4,000-square-foot plush bungalow with manicured lawns comes to just about Rs. 1.4 lakh a month.

Real estate consultants told HT that this was a fraction of the real market rent of around Rs. 18 lakh- Rs. 25 lakh prevalent in Lutyens’ Bungalow Zone (LBZ).

No wonder then, about two dozen former ministers and an equal number of ex-MPs have been paying anywhere between Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 2 lakh as market rate for enjoying the comforts of these leafy bungalows located in one of the Capital’s most envied localities. For instance, Congress’ SM Krishna who lives at 1 Thyagaraja Marg, TMC’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay residing at Maulana Azad Road and DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran who stays at Akbar Road are just some of the names on this list.

“The zone bears the mark of luxury in its wide roads, colonial-style architecture on large, open plots with lush green gardens, excellent civic amenities, and it allows for better security management. Limited availability renders this location unaffected by the downturn in the real estate sector,” said a realty consultant on condition of anonymity.  

Urban development ministry officials, however, defend the arrangement. “We call it a market rate, but it is actually a penalty arrived at after multiplying the licence fee with 55. It can’t be compared to the prevailing market rent in the area, as it is fixed taking into account various aspects, including the pension that a former MP gets. Also, the intention is not to earn revenue from rent,” said an official who did not want to be quoted.

While the licence fee of a Type VII bungalow (2,034 sq ft to 2,411 sq ft) has been fixed at Rs. 1,835, depending on the area (which varies between 2,600 sq ft to 5,618 sq ft) this rate for a Type VIII bungalow comes to Rs. 2,630- Rs. 3,875. A nominal garden fee varying between Rs. 1,400 and Rs. 1,800 is also levied where bungalows have huge lawns. Type VII and Type VIII bungalows are allotted to cabinet ministers, MPs, judges of Supreme Court and High Court, top army brass, commission chairpersons, cabinet secretary, and top law and policy makers.


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